Most of us had to go to college to get our Industrial Design education. There was simply nothing available at the high school level. But if we could get young people engaged with design earlier than we currently do, the profession would benefit as a whole.
What branch of design would appeal most to high school kids? Product, automotive, furniture? It actually doesn't matter, if those industries aren't bothering to reach out to youth. But PENSOLE Design Academy, the educational footwear design organization founded by D'Wayne Edwards, is reaching out, and betting that sneakers will be a good draw.
Last week PENSOLE launched "PENSOLE High School (PHS), a multidiscipline pre-college design program called Sneakerhead of State (S.O.S) for high school students."
"S.O.S has a double meaning—both standing for the program name, but also calling out the lack of design education for high school students nationwide. PENSOLE High School was created to inspire and raise awareness of design careers in the footwear industry," PENSOLE founder D'Wayne Edwards said. "Reaching high school youth is critical to empower students on their path toward becoming innovative problem-solvers while preparing them to create their own path for their future."
Through its Sneakerhead of State workshops, online and in-person competitions, PHS will reach a wide range of high school students interested in exploring design as a career option. All PHS programs are open to rising 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students.
"Showing young people how the products they love come to life, and how they can become involved in the design process is of the utmost importance to drive the future of our industry," said Jason Brown, VP of Marketing for Champs Sports.
Sneakerhead of State workshops will be held at Champs Sports stores in the hometowns of PENSOLE alumni, who will conduct the workshops with a goal of introducing participants and parents to the design process. Depending on the length of the workshop offered, participants will be given brief exercises covering a range (3-6) of studio disciplines offered at PENSOLE Academy, such as footwear design, color and material design, functional apparel and accessories design, brand design, shoemaking, and 3D design.
One student each will be crowned the Sneakerhead of State in Footwear Design, Color and Material Design, and Functional Apparel and Accessories Design in December. These students, along with the high school they attend, will receive cash prizes, gift cards from Champs Sports and a scholarship to attend PENSOLE, in Portland, Ore.